Korah, Dathan and Abiram

16 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites – Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth – became insolent[a] and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?’

When Moses heard this, he fell face down. Then he said to Korah and all his followers: ‘In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will make that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: take censers and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!’

Moses also said to Korah, ‘Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?’

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, ‘We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves[b]? No, we will not come!’

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, ‘Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.’

16 Moses said to Korah, ‘You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow – you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it – 250 censers in all – and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.’ 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 ‘Separate yourselves from this assembly so that I can put an end to them at once.’

22 But Moses and Aaron fell face down and cried out, ‘O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?’

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 ‘Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.”’

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, ‘Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.’ 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, ‘This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 if these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.’

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, ‘The earth is going to swallow us too!’

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 ‘Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy – 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.’

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. ‘You have killed the Lord’s people,’ they said.

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned towards the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 ‘Get away from this assembly so that I can put an end to them at once.’ And they fell face down.

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.’ 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.[c]


  1. Numbers 16:1 Or Peleth – took men
  2. Numbers 16:14 Or to deceive these men; Hebrew Will you gouge out the eyes of these men
  3. Numbers 16:50 In Hebrew texts 16:36-50 is numbered 17:1-15.

The Rebellion of Korah

16 [a] Now Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, who were Reubenites,[b] took men[c] and rebelled against Moses, along with some of the Israelites, 250 leaders[d] of the community, chosen from the assembly,[e] famous men.[f] And they assembled against Moses and Aaron, saying to them, “You take too much upon yourselves,[g] seeing that the whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the community of the Lord?”

When Moses heard it he fell down with his face to the ground.[h] Then he said to Korah and to all his company, “In the morning the Lord will make known who are his, and who is holy. He will cause that person[i] to approach him; the person he has chosen he will cause to approach him. Do this, Korah, you and all your company:[j] Take censers, put fire in them, and set incense on them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses will be holy. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” Moses said to Korah, “Listen now, you sons of Levi! Does it seem too small a thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the community of Israel to bring you near to himself, to perform the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the community to minister to them? 10 He has brought you near and all your brothers, the sons of Levi, with you. Do you now seek[k] the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company have assembled together against the Lord! And Aaron—what is he that you murmur against him?”[l] 12 Then Moses summoned[m] Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up.[n] 13 Is it a small thing[o] that you have brought us up out of the land that flows with milk and honey,[p] to kill us in the wilderness? Now do you want to make yourself a prince[q] over us? 14 Moreover,[r] you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, nor given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can blind[s] these men? We will not come up.”

15 Moses was very angry, and he said to the Lord, “Have no respect[t] for their offering! I have not taken so much as one donkey from them, nor have I harmed any one of them!”

16 Then Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company present yourselves before the Lord—you and they, and Aaron—tomorrow. 17 And each of you[u] take his censer, put[v] incense in it, and then each of you present his censer before the Lord: 250 censers, along with you, and Aaron—each of you with his censer.” 18 So everyone took his censer, put fire in it, and set incense on it, and stood at the entrance of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. 19 When[w] Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting, then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community.

The Judgment on the Rebels

20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: 21 “Separate yourselves[x] from among this community,[y] that I may consume them in an instant.” 22 Then they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground[z] and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all people,[aa] will you be angry with the whole community when only one man sins?”[ab]

23 So the Lord spoke to Moses: 24 “Tell the community: ‘Get away[ac] from around the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’” 25 Then Moses got up[ad] and went to Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel went after him. 26 And he said to the community, “Move away from the tents of these wicked[ae] men, and do not touch anything they have, lest you be destroyed because[af] of all their sins.”[ag] 27 So they got away from the homes of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on every side, and Dathan and Abiram came out and stationed themselves[ah] in the entrances of their tents with their wives, their children, and their toddlers. 28 Then Moses said, “This is how[ai] you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.[aj] 29 If these men die a natural death,[ak] or if they share the fate[al] of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord does something entirely new,[am] and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up[an] along with all that they have, and they[ao] go down alive to the grave,[ap] then you will know that these men have despised the Lord!”

31 When he had finished[aq] speaking[ar] all these words, the ground that was under them split open, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their households, and all Korah’s men, and all their goods. 33 They and all that they had went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them. So they perished from among the community. 34 All the Israelites[as] who were around them fled at their cry,[at] for they said, “What if[au] the earth swallows us too?” 35 Then a fire[av] went out from the Lord and devoured the 250 men who offered incense.

The Atonement for the Rebellion

36 (17:1)[aw] The Lord spoke to Moses: 37 “Tell[ax] Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to pick up[ay] the censers out of the flame, for they are holy, and then scatter the coals of fire[az] at a distance. 38 As for the censers of these men who sinned at the cost of their lives,[ba] they must be made[bb] into hammered sheets for covering the altar, because they presented them before the Lord and sanctified them. They will become a sign to the Israelites.” 39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers presented by those who had been burned up, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar. 40 It was a memorial for the Israelites, that no outsider who is not a descendant of[bc] Aaron should approach to burn incense before the Lord, that he might not become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had spoken by the authority[bd] of Moses. 41 But on the next day the whole community of Israelites murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!”[be] 42 When the community assembled[bf] against Moses and Aaron, they turned toward the tent of meeting—and[bg] the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron stood before the tent of meeting.

44 The Lord spoke to Moses: 45 “Get away from this community, so that I can consume them in an instant!” But they threw themselves down with their faces to the ground.[bh] 46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take the censer, put burning coals from the altar in it, place incense on it, and go quickly into the assembly and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the Lord—the plague has begun!” 47 So Aaron did[bi] as Moses commanded[bj] and ran into the middle of the assembly, where the plague was just beginning among the people. So he placed incense on the coals and made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 49 Now 14,700 people died in the plague, in addition to those who died in the event with Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and the plague was stopped.


  1. Numbers 16:1 sn There are three main movements in the story of ch. 16. The first is the rebellion itself (vv. 1-19). The second is the judgment (vv. 20-35). Third is the atonement for the rebels (vv. 36-50). The whole chapter is a marvelous account of a massive rebellion against the leaders that concludes with reconciliation. For further study see G. Hort, “The Death of Qorah,” ABR 7 (1959): 2-26; and J. Liver, “Korah, Dathan and Abiram,” Studies in the Bible (ScrHier 8), 189-217.
  2. Numbers 16:1 tc The MT reading is plural (“the sons of Reuben”); the Smr and LXX have the singular (“the son of Reuben”).
  3. Numbers 16:1 tn In the Hebrew text there is no object for the verb “took.” The translation presented above supplies the word “men.” However, it is possible that the MT has suffered damage here. The LXX has “and he spoke.” The Syriac and Targum have “and he was divided.” The editor of BHS suggests that perhaps the MT should be emended to “and he arose.”
  4. Numbers 16:2 tn Heb “princes” (so KJV, ASV).
  5. Numbers 16:2 tn These men must have been counselors or judges of some kind.
  6. Numbers 16:2 tn Heb “men of name,” or “men of renown.”
  7. Numbers 16:3 tn The meaning of רַב־לָכֶם (rav lakhem) is something like “you have assumed far too much authority.” It simply means “much to you,” perhaps “you have gone to far,” or “you are overreaching yourselves” (M. Noth, Numbers [OTL], 123). He is objecting to the exclusiveness of the system that Moses has been introducing.
  8. Numbers 16:4 tn Heb “fell on his face.”
  9. Numbers 16:5 tn Heb “him.”
  10. Numbers 16:6 tn Heb “his congregation” or “his community.” The expression is unusual, but what it signifies is that Korah had set up a rival “Israel” with himself as leader.
  11. Numbers 16:10 tn The verb is the Piel perfect. There is no imperfect tense before this, which makes the construction a little difficult. If the vav (ו) is classified as a consecutive, then the form would stand alone as an equivalent to the imperfect, and rendered as a modal nuance such as “would you [now] seek,” or as a progressive imperfect, “are you seeking.” This latter nuance can be obtained by treating it as a regular perfect tense, with an instantaneous nuance: “do you [now] seek.”sn Moses discerned correctly the real motivation for the rebellion. Korah wanted to be the high priest because he saw how much power there was in the spiritual leadership in Israel. He wanted something like a general election with himself as the candidate and his supporters promoting him. The great privilege of being a Levite and serving in the sanctuary was not enough for him—the status did not satisfy him. Korah gave no rebuttal. The test would be one of ministering with incense. This would bring them into direct proximity with the Lord. If God honored Korah as a ministering priest, then it would be settled. But Moses accuses them of rebellion against the Lord, because the Lord had chosen Aaron to be the priest.
  12. Numbers 16:11 sn The question indicates that they had been murmuring against Aaron, that is, expressing disloyalty and challenging his leadership. But it is actually against the Lord that they had been murmuring because the Lord had put Aaron in that position.
  13. Numbers 16:12 tn Heb “Moses sent to summon.” The verb קָרָא (qaraʾ) followed by the ל (lamed) preposition does not mean “call to” but “summon.” This is a command performance; for them to appear would be to submit to Moses’ authority. This they will not do.
  14. Numbers 16:12 tn The imperfect tense of נַעֲלֶה (naʿaleh) expresses their unwillingness to report: “we are not willing,” or “we will not.” The verb means “to go up.” It is used in the sense of appearing before an authority or a superior (see, e.g., Gen 46:31; Deut 25:7; Judg 4:5).
  15. Numbers 16:13 tn The question is rhetorical. It was not a small thing to them—it was a big thing.
  16. Numbers 16:13 tn The modern scholar who merely sees these words as belonging to an earlier tradition about going up to the land of Canaan that flows with milk and honey misses the irony here. What is happening is that the text is showing how twisted the thinking of the rebels is. They have turned things completely around. Egypt was the land flowing with milk and honey, not Canaan where they will die. The words of rebellion are seldom original, and always twisted.
  17. Numbers 16:13 tn The verb הִשְׂתָּרֵר (histarer) is the Hitpael infinitive absolute that emphasizes the preceding תִשְׂתָּרֵר (tistarer), the Hitpael imperfect tense (both forms having metathesis). The verb means “to rule; to act like a prince; to make oneself a prince.” This is the only occurrence of the reflexive for this verb. The exact nuance is difficult to translate into English. But they are accusing Moses of seizing princely power for himself, perhaps making a sarcastic reference to his former status in Egypt. The rebels here are telling Moses that they had discerned his scheme, and so he could not “hoodwink” them (cf. NEB).
  18. Numbers 16:14 tn Here אַף (ʾaf) has the sense of “in addition.” It is not a common use.
  19. Numbers 16:14 tn Heb “will you bore out the eyes of these men?” The question is “Will you continue to mislead them?” (or “hoodwink” them). In Deut 16:19 it is used for taking a bribe; something like that kind of deception is intended here. They are simply stating that Moses is a deceiver who is misleading the people with false promises.
  20. Numbers 16:15 tn The verb means “to turn toward”; it is a figurative expression that means “to pay attention to” or “to have regard for.” So this is a prayer against Dathan and Abiram.
  21. Numbers 16:17 tn Heb “and take, a man, his censer.”
  22. Numbers 16:17 tn This verb and the following one are both perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives. Following the imperative they carry the same force, but in sequence.
  23. Numbers 16:19 tn This clause is clearly foundational for the clause that follows, the appearance of the Lord; therefore it should be subordinated to the next as a temporal clause (one preterite followed by another preterite may be so subordinated).
  24. Numbers 16:21 tn The verb is הִבָּדְלוּ (hibbadelu), the Niphal imperative of בָּדַל (badal). This is the same word that was just used when Moses reminded the Levites that they had been separated from the community to serve the Lord.
  25. Numbers 16:21 sn The group of people siding with Korah is meant, and not the entire community of the people of Israel. They are an assembly of rebels, their “community” consisting in their common plot.
  26. Numbers 16:22 sn It is Moses and Aaron who prostrate themselves; they have the good of the people at heart.
  27. Numbers 16:22 tn The expression “the God of the spirits of all humanity [flesh]” is somewhat difficult. The Hebrew text says אֱלֹהֵי הָרוּחֹת לְכָל־בָּשָׂר (ʾelohe harukhot lekhol basar). This expression occurs in Num 27:16 again. It also occurs in some postbiblical texts, a fact which has prompted some scholars to conclude that it is a late addition. The words clearly show that Moses is interceding for the congregation. The appeal in the verse is that it is better for one man to die for the whole nation than the whole nation for one man (see also John 11:50).
  28. Numbers 16:22 tn The verb is the Qal imperfect יֶחֱטָא (yekhetaʾ); it refers to the sinful rebellion of Korah, but Moses is stating something of a principle: “One man sins, and will you be angry….” A past tense translation would assume that this is a preterite use of the imperfect (without vav [ו] consecutive).
  29. Numbers 16:24 tn The motif of “going up” is still present; here the Hebrew text says “go up” (the Niphal imperative—“go up yourselves”) from their tents, meaning, move away from them.
  30. Numbers 16:25 tn Heb “rose up.”
  31. Numbers 16:26 tn The word רָשָׁע (rashaʿ) has the sense of a guilty criminal. The word “wicked” sometimes gives the wrong connotation. These men were opposing the Lord, and so were condemned as criminals—they were guilty. The idea of “wickedness” therefore applies in that sense.
  32. Numbers 16:26 tn The preposition ב (bet) in this line is causal—“on account of their sins.”
  33. Numbers 16:26 sn The impression is that the people did not hear what the Lord said to Moses, but only what Moses said to the people as a result. They saw the brilliant cloud, and perhaps heard the sound of his voice, but the relaying of the instructions indicates they did not hear the actual instruction from the Lord himself.
  34. Numbers 16:27 tn The verb נִצָּבִים (nitsavim) suggests a defiant stance, for the word is often used in the sense of taking a stand for or against something. It can also be somewhat neutral, having the sense of positioning oneself for a purpose.
  35. Numbers 16:28 tn Heb “in this.”
  36. Numbers 16:28 tn The Hebrew text simply has כִּי־לֹא מִלִּבִּי (ki loʾ millibbi, “for not from my heart”). The heart is the center of the will, the place decisions are made (see H. W. Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament). Moses is saying that the things he has done have not come “from the will of man” so to speak—and certainly not from some secret desire on his part to seize power.
  37. Numbers 16:29 tn Heb “if like the death of every man they die.”
  38. Numbers 16:29 tn The noun is פְּקֻדָּה (pequddah, “appointment, visitation”). The expression refers to a natural death, parallel to the first expression.
  39. Numbers 16:30 tn The verb בָּרָא (baraʾ) is normally translated “create” in the Bible. More specifically it means to fashion or make or do something new and fresh. Here the verb is joined with its cognate accusative to underscore that this will be so different everyone will know it is of God.
  40. Numbers 16:30 tn The figures are personifications, but they vividly describe the catastrophe to follow—which was very much like a mouth swallowing them.
  41. Numbers 16:30 tn The word is “life” or “lifetime”; it certainly means their lives—they themselves. But the presence of this word suggests more. It is an accusative specifying the state of the subject—they will go down alive to Sheol.
  42. Numbers 16:30 tn The word “Sheol” in the Bible can be used four different ways: the grave, the realm of the departed [wicked] spirits or Hell, death in general, or a place of extreme danger (one that will lead to the grave if God does not intervene). The usage here is certainly the first, and very likely the second as well. A translation of “pit” would not be inappropriate. Since they will go down there alive, it is likely that they will sense the deprivation and the separation from the land above. See H. W. Robinson, Inspiration and Revelation in the Old Testament; N. J. Tromp, Primitive Conceptions of Death and the Netherworld in the Old Testament (BibOr 21), 21-23; and A. Heidel, The Gilgamesh Epic, especially ch. 3.
  43. Numbers 16:31 tn The initial temporal clause is standard: It begins with the temporal indicator “and it was,” followed here by the Piel infinitive construct with the preposition and the subjective genitive suffix. “And it happened when he finished.”
  44. Numbers 16:31 tn The infinitive construct with the preposition ל (lamed) functions here as the direct object of the preceding infinitive. It tells what he finished.
  45. Numbers 16:34 tn Heb “all Israel.”
  46. Numbers 16:34 tn Heb “voice.”
  47. Numbers 16:34 tn Heb “lest.”
  48. Numbers 16:35 tn For a discussion of the fire of the Lord, see J. C. H. Laughlin, “The Strange Fire of Nadab and Abihu,” JBL 95 (1976): 559-65.
  49. Numbers 16:36 sn Beginning with 16:36, the verse numbers through 17:13 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 16:36 ET = 17:1 HT, 16:37 ET = 17:2 HT, 17:1 ET = 17:16 HT, etc., through 17:13 ET = 17:28 HT. With 18:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same. But in the English chap. 17 there are two parts: Aaron’s rod budding (1-9), and the rod preserved as a memorial (10-13). Both sections begin with the same formula.
  50. Numbers 16:37 tn Heb “say to.”
  51. Numbers 16:37 tn The verb is the jussive with a vav (ו) coming after the imperative; it may be subordinated to form a purpose clause (“that he may pick up”) or the object of the imperative.
  52. Numbers 16:37 tn The Hebrew text just has “fire,” but it would be hard to conceive of this action apart from the idea of coals of fire.
  53. Numbers 16:38 tn The expression is “in/by/against their life.” That they sinned against their life means that they brought ruin to themselves.
  54. Numbers 16:38 tn The form is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. But there is no expressed subject for “and they shall make them,” and so it may be treated as a passive (“they shall [must] be made”).
  55. Numbers 16:40 tn Heb “from the seed of.”
  56. Numbers 16:40 tn Heb “hand.”
  57. Numbers 16:41 sn The whole congregation here is trying to project its guilt on Moses and Aaron. It was they and their rebellion that brought about the deaths, not Moses and Aaron. The Lord had punished the sinners. The fact that the leaders had organized a rebellion against the Lord was forgotten by these people. The point here is that the Israelites had learned nothing of spiritual value from the event.
  58. Numbers 16:42 tn The temporal clause is constructed with the temporal indicator (“and it was”) followed by the Niphal infinitive construct and preposition.
  59. Numbers 16:42 tn The verse uses וְהִנֵּה (vehinneh, “and behold”). This is the deictic particle—it is used to point things out, suddenly calling attention to them, as if the reader were there. The people turned to look toward the tent—and there is the cloud!
  60. Numbers 16:45 tn Heb “they fell on their faces.”
  61. Numbers 16:47 tn Heb “took.”
  62. Numbers 16:47 tn Or “had spoken” (NASB); NRSV “had ordered.”

12 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid.

Good people obtain favour from the Lord,
    but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

No one can be established through wickedness,
    but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
    but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

The plans of the righteous are just,
    but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
    but the speech of the upright rescues them.

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
    but the house of the righteous stands firm.

A person is praised according to their prudence,
    and one with a warped mind is despised.

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

10 The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
    but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

11 Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

12 The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
    but the root of the righteous endures.

13 Evildoers are trapped by their sinful talk,
    and so the innocent escape trouble.

14 From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

15 The way of fools seems right to them,
    but the wise listen to advice.

16 Fools show their annoyance at once,
    but the prudent overlook an insult.

17 An honest witness tells the truth,
    but a false witness tells lies.

18 The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

19 Truthful lips endure for ever,
    but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.

20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil,
    but those who promote peace have joy.

21 No harm overtakes the righteous,
    but the wicked have their fill of trouble.

22 The Lord detests lying lips,
    but he delights in people who are trustworthy.

23 The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves,
    but a fool’s heart blurts out folly.

24 Diligent hands will rule,
    but laziness ends in forced labour.

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,
    but a kind word cheers it up.

26 The righteous choose their friends carefully,
    but the way of the wicked leads them astray.

27 The lazy do not roast[a] any game,
    but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.

28 In the way of righteousness there is life;
    along that path is immortality.


  1. Proverbs 12:27 The meaning of the Hebrew for this word is uncertain.

12 The one who loves discipline loves knowledge,[a]
but the one who hates reproof is stupid.[b]
A good person obtains favor from the Lord,
but the Lord[c] condemns a person with wicked schemes.[d]
No one[e] can be established[f] through wickedness,
but a righteous root[g] cannot be moved.
A noble wife[h] is the crown[i] of her husband,
but the wife[j] who acts shamefully is like rottenness in his bones.[k]
The plans[l] of the righteous are just;
the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.[m]
The words of the wicked lie in wait[n] to shed innocent blood,[o]
but the words[p] of the upright will deliver them.
The wicked are overthrown[q] and perish,[r]
but the righteous household[s] will stand.
A person[t] will be praised in accordance with[u] his wisdom,
but the one with a bewildered mind[v] will be despised.
Better is a person of humble standing[w] who works for himself,[x]
than one who pretends to be somebody important[y] yet has no food.
10 A righteous person cares for[z] the life of his animal,
but even the most compassionate acts[aa] of the wicked are cruel.
11 The one who works[ab] his field will have plenty[ac] of food,
but whoever chases daydreams[ad] lacks sense.[ae]
12 The wicked person has desired[af] the stronghold[ag] of the wicked,
but the root of the righteous will yield fruit.[ah]
13 The evil person is ensnared[ai] by the transgression of his speech,[aj]
but the righteous person escapes out of trouble.[ak]
14 A person will be satisfied with good from the fruit of his words,[al]
and the work of his hands[am] will be rendered to[an] him.
15 The way of a fool[ao] is right[ap] in his own opinion,[aq]
but the one who listens to advice is wise.[ar]
16 A fool’s annoyance[as] is known at once,[at]
but the prudent[au] conceals dishonor.[av]
17 The faithful witness[aw] tells what is right,[ax]
but a false witness[ay] speaks[az] deceit.
18 Speaking recklessly[ba] is like the thrusts of a sword,
but the words[bb] of the wise bring[bc] healing.[bd]
19 The one who tells the truth[be] will endure forever,
but the one who lies[bf] will last only for a moment.[bg]
20 Deceit[bh] is in the heart of those who plot evil,[bi]
but those who promote peace[bj] have joy.
21 No harm[bk] will be directed at[bl] the righteous,
but the wicked are filled with calamity.[bm]
22 The Lord[bn] abhors a person who lies,[bo]
but those who deal truthfully[bp] are his delight.[bq]
23 The shrewd person[br] conceals[bs] knowledge,
but foolish people[bt] proclaim folly.[bu]
24 The diligent[bv] person[bw] will rule,
but the slothful[bx] will be put to forced labor.[by]
25 Anxiety[bz] in a person’s heart weighs him down,[ca]
but an encouraging[cb] word brings him joy.[cc]
26 The righteous person is cautious in his friendship,[cd]
but the way of the wicked leads them astray.
27 The lazy person does not roast[ce] his prey,
but personal possessions are precious to the diligent.[cf]
28 In the path of righteousness there is life,
but another path[cg] leads to death.[ch]


  1. Proverbs 12:1 sn Those who wish to improve themselves must learn to accept correction; the fool hates/rejects any correction.
  2. Proverbs 12:1 tn The word בַּעַר (baʿar, “stupid, brutish”) comes from בְּעִיר (beʿir, “beast, cattle). It refers to a lack of rationality (Ps 49:10; 73:22; 92:7; 30:2). The verbal derivative is used to convey “deficiency in moral and religious, rather than intellectual aspects” (NIDOTTE 679 s.v. בָּעַר).
  3. Proverbs 12:2 tn Heb “but he condemns.” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  4. Proverbs 12:2 tn Heb “a man of wicked plans.” The noun מְזִמּוֹת (mezimmot, “evil plans”) functions as an attributive genitive: “an evil-scheming man.” Cf. NASB “a man who devises evil”; NAB “the schemer.”
  5. Proverbs 12:3 tn Heb “a man cannot be.”
  6. Proverbs 12:3 tn The Niphal imperfect of כּוּן (cun, “to be established”) refers to finding permanent “security” (so NRSV, TEV, CEV) before God. Only righteousness can do that.
  7. Proverbs 12:3 tn Heb “a root of righteousness.” The genitive צַדִּיקִים (tsaddiqim, “righteousness”) functions as an attributive adjective. The figure “root” (שֹׁרֶשׁ, shoresh) stresses the security of the righteous; they are firmly planted and cannot be uprooted (cf. NLT “the godly have deep roots”). The righteous are often compared to a tree (e.g., 11:30; Pss 1:3; 92:13).
  8. Proverbs 12:4 tn Heb “a wife of virtue”; NAB, NLT “a worthy wife.” This noble woman (אֵשֶׁת־חַיִל, ʾeshet khayil) is the subject of Prov 31. She is a “virtuous woman” (cf. KJV), a capable woman of noble character. She is contrasted with the woman who is disgraceful (מְבִישָׁה, mevishah; “one who causes shame”) or who lowers his standing in the community.
  9. Proverbs 12:4 sn The metaphor of the “crown” emphasizes that such a wife is a symbol of honor and glory.
  10. Proverbs 12:4 tn Heb “she”; the referent (the wife) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  11. Proverbs 12:4 sn The simile means that the shameful acts of such a woman will eat away her husband’s strength and influence and destroy his happiness.
  12. Proverbs 12:5 tn Heb “thoughts.” This term refers not just to random thoughts, however, but to what is planned or devised.
  13. Proverbs 12:5 sn The plans of good people are directed toward what is right. Advice from the wicked, however, is deceitful and can only lead to trouble.
  14. Proverbs 12:6 tn Heb “are to ambush blood.” The infinitive construct אֱרָב (ʾerov, “to lie in wait”) expresses the purpose of their conversations. The proverb either compares their words to an ambush (cf. NAB, NRSV “are a deadly ambush”) or states what the content of their words is about.
  15. Proverbs 12:6 tn Heb “for blood.” The term “blood” is a metonymy of effect, the cause being the person that they will attack and whose blood they will shed. After the construct “blood” is also an objective genitive.
  16. Proverbs 12:6 tn Heb “mouth.” The term פֶּה (peh, “mouth”) is a metonymy of cause, signifying what the righteous say. The righteous can make a skillful defense against false accusations that are intended to destroy. The righteous, who have gained wisdom, can escape the traps set by the words of the wicked.
  17. Proverbs 12:7 tn The MT has an infinitive absolute “as to the overthrow of the wicked—they are [then] no more.” The verb הָפַך (haphakh) can mean “to turn” (change directions), “to turn something into something,” or “to overthrow” (particularly said of cities). The LXX interprets as “wherever the wicked turns he disappears.”sn This proverb is about the stability of the righteous in times of trouble.
  18. Proverbs 12:7 tn Heb “and they are not.”
  19. Proverbs 12:7 tn Heb “the house of the righteous.” The genitive צַדִּיקִים (tsaddiqim) functions as an attributive adjective: “righteous house.” The noun בֵּית (bet, “house”) functions as a synecdoche of container (= house) for the contents (= family, household; perhaps household possessions). Cf. NCV “a good person’s family”; NLT “the children of the godly.”
  20. Proverbs 12:8 tn Heb “a man.”
  21. Proverbs 12:8 tn Heb “to the mouth of.” This idiom means “according to” (BDB 805 s.v. פֶּה 6.b.(b); cf. KJV, NAB, NIV). The point is that praise is proportionate to wisdom.
  22. Proverbs 12:8 tn Heb “bent of mind.” The verb עָוָּה (ʿavah) occurs four times in the Niphal. In Isa 21:3 and Ps 38:6 it describes someone who is dazed or bewildered; in 1 Sam 20:30 it is derogatory, probably meaning moral perversity. Here it contrasts wisdom, so “bewildered” is likely, but it may also mean “perverse” (NASB, NRSV, NKJV), “warped” (NIV, NLT), “twisted” (ESV). The noun לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) is a genitive of specification. It functions as a metonymy of association for “mind; thoughts” (BDB 524 s.v. 3) and “will; volition” (BDB 524 s.v. 4). This person does not perceive things as they are, and so makes wrong choices. His thinking is all wrong.
  23. Proverbs 12:9 tn Heb “one who is lightly regarded.” The verb קָלָה (qalah) means “to be lightly esteemed; to be dishonored; to be degraded” (BDB 885 s.v.).
  24. Proverbs 12:9 tn Or “who accomplishes [something] for himself.” This is another possible meaning of the Hebrew underlying the LXX (see below). All of the possible options suggest that this person still has something of their own in contrast to the pretentious person in the second half of the saying.tc The MT reads וְעֶבֶד לוֹ (veʿeved lo), which may mean “has a servant” or “is a servant for himself.” The LXX, Syriac, Vulgate and at least one Medieval Hebrew manuscript read the consonants as וְעֹבֵד לוֹ (veʿoved lo) “who serves (works for) himself.” The editors of BHS suggest a slight emendation to וַעֲבוּר לוֹ (vaʿavur lo) “and the produce belongs to him.” The meaning produce (cf. Josh 5:11) is a fitting parallel to “food” and the end of the verse, but the suggestion has no textual support.
  25. Proverbs 12:9 tn Heb “who makes himself out to be important,” “who feigns importance,” or “to boast.” The verb is a Hitpael participle from כָּבֵד (kaved), “to be weighty; to be honored; to be important”). See BDB 458 s.v. כָּבֵד Hitp.2 and HALOT 456 s.v. כָּבֵד.sn This individual lives beyond his financial means in a vain show to impress other people and thus cannot afford to put food on the table.
  26. Proverbs 12:10 tn Heb “knows”; NLT “concerned for the welfare of.” For יָדַע (yadaʿ) meaning “to care for” see HALOT 391 s.v. Qal 4 and 7, NIDOTTE 401 s.v., and compare Job 9:21; Ps 1:6.
  27. Proverbs 12:10 tn Heb “but the mercies.” The additional words appear in the translation for the sake of clarification. The line can be interpreted in two ways: (1) when the wicked exhibit a kind act, they do it in a cruel way, or (2) even the kindest of their acts is cruel by all assessments.
  28. Proverbs 12:11 sn In the biblical period agriculture was the most common occupation for the people; so “working a field” describes a substantial occupation, but also represents working in general. Diligent work, not get-rich-quick schemes, is the key to ensuring income.
  29. Proverbs 12:11 tn Heb “will have his fill of” or “will be satisfied with.”
  30. Proverbs 12:11 tn Heb “empty things” or “vain things.” The term רֵיקִים (reqim) refers to worthless pursuits in an effort to make money. The fact that the participle used is “chase after” shows how elusive these are. Cf. NIV “fantasies”; NCV “empty dreams”; TEV “useless projects.”
  31. Proverbs 12:11 tn Heb “lacking of mind.” The term לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) refers by metonymy to thinking, and by extension to discernment, wisdom, good sense.
  32. Proverbs 12:12 sn The contrast includes a contrast of verb forms, here the perfect verb “has desired,” next the imperfect verb “will yield [fruit].” The perfect verb leaves the wicked at the point of desire for a goal. He or she has [only] desired, but there is no implication of achievement. In contrast the righteous are described not in terms of their goal or desire, but their root, implying their foundation or character. Their focus is different but their root will yield fruit or be productive.
  33. Proverbs 12:12 tn This line is difficult to interpret. BDB connects the term מְצוֹד (metsod) to II מָצוֹד which means (1) “snare; hunting-net” and (2) what is caught: “prey” (BDB 844-45 s.v. II מָצוֹד). This would function as a metonymy of cause for what the net catches: the prey. Or it may be saying that the wicked get caught in their own net, that is, reap the consequences of their own sins. On the other hand, HALOT 622 connects מְצוֹד (metsod) to II מְצוּדָה (metsudah, “mountain stronghold”; cf. NAB “the stronghold of evil men will be demolished”). The LXX translated it as: “The desires of the wicked are evil.” The Syriac has: “The wicked desire to do evil.” The Latin expands it: “The desire of the wicked is a defense of the worst [things, or persons].” C. H. Toy suggests emending the text to read “wickedness is the net of bad men” (Proverbs [ICC], 250).
  34. Proverbs 12:12 tc The MT reads יִתֵּן (yitten, “will give; gives,” without a direct object: “the root of the righteous gives.” The LXX reads “the root of the righteous endures” (cf. NAB). This suggests a Hebrew Vorlage of אֵיתָן (ʾetan, “constant; continual”; HALOT 44-45 s.v. I אֵיתָן 2) which would involve the omission of א (ʾalef) in the MT.tn Heb “will give/yield.” The verb נָתַן (natan) is used elsewhere in the phrase to “produce fruit” (e.g. Lev 25:19 of the land; Zech 8:12 of the vine). Yielding fruit can be a natural implication of healthy roots (cf. Ps. 1:3; Isa 11:1; Jer 12:2). The sage has probably left out specific mention of the word “fruit” to heighten the contrast between desiring a goal and receiving a result which is the byproduct of good character. However the omission may imply a text critical problem.
  35. Proverbs 12:13 tc MT reads the noun מוֹקֵשׁ (moqesh, “bait; lure”). The LXX, Syriac and Tg. Prov 12:13 took it as a passive participle (“is ensnared”). The MT is the more difficult reading and so is preferred. The versions appear to be trying to clarify a difficult reading. tn Heb “snare of a man.” The word “snare” is the figurative meaning of the noun מוֹקֵשׁ (“bait; lure” from יָקַשׁ [yaqash, “to lay a bait, or lure”]).
  36. Proverbs 12:13 tn Heb “transgression of the lips.” The noun “lips” is a genitive of specification and it functions as a metonymy of cause for speech: sinful talk or sinning by talking. J. H. Greenstone suggests that this refers to litigation; the wicked attempt to involve the innocent (Proverbs, 131).
  37. Proverbs 12:13 sn J. H. Greenstone suggests that when the wicked become involved in contradictions of testimony, the innocent is freed from the trouble. Another meaning would be that the wicked get themselves trapped by what they say, but the righteous avoid that (Proverbs, 131).
  38. Proverbs 12:14 tn Heb “fruit of the lips.” The term “fruit” is the implied comparison, meaning what is produced; and “lips” is the metonymy of cause, referring to speech. Proper speech will result in good things.
  39. Proverbs 12:14 tn Heb “the work of the hands of a man.”
  40. Proverbs 12:14 tc The Kethib has the Qal imperfect, “will return” to him (cf. NASB); the Qere preserves a Hiphil imperfect, “he/one will restore/render” to him (cf. KJV, ASV). The Qere seems to suggest that someone (God or people) will reward him in kind. Since there is no expressed subject, it may be translated as a passive voice.
  41. Proverbs 12:15 sn The way of a fool describes a headlong course of actions (“way” is an idiom for conduct) that is not abandoned even when wise advice is offered.
  42. Proverbs 12:15 sn The fool believes that his own plans and ideas are perfect or “right” (יָשָׁר, yashar); he is satisfied with his own opinion.
  43. Proverbs 12:15 tn Heb “in his own eyes.”
  44. Proverbs 12:15 tn Or “a wise person listens to advice” (cf. NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
  45. Proverbs 12:16 tn Heb “The fool, at once his vexation is known.” This rhetorically emphatic construction uses an independent nominative absolute, which is then followed by the formal subject with a suffix. The construction focuses attention on “the fool,” then states what is to be said about him.
  46. Proverbs 12:16 tn Heb “on the day” or “the same day.”sn The fool is impatient and unwise, and so flares up immediately when anything bothers him. W. McKane says that the fool’s reaction is “like an injured animal and so his opponent knows that he has been wounded” (Proverbs [OTL], 442).
  47. Proverbs 12:16 tn Heb “shrewd.”
  48. Proverbs 12:16 tn The range of meanings for the verb and the object suggest several possible interpretations of the last line. The verb כָּסָה (kasah) means “to cover” and may indicate hiding or ignoring something. The noun קָלוֹן (qalon) means “shame” and may refer to disgrace (something to be ashamed of) or to contempt or an insult given (shaming words). Several English translations view it as ignoring or overlooking an insult (NIV, ESV, NRSV). Others more ambiguously render it as covering or concealing dishonor or shame, where it is less clear whether the person conceals their own shame or someone else’s. And the LXX reads “a clever person conceals his own dishonor.” But these entail the three main possibilities: to ignore an insult given to you, to ignore something that could shame others, or to conceal something of your own that could be shameful. In a similar phrase in 12:23, the verb does not mean to ignore something.sn The contrast in this proverb could be that the prudent person overlooks the insult made by the fool in part one, bypasses the opportunity to expose something that would shame another (in contrast to the fool), or doesn’t give the opportunity for the fool to see what might be embarrassing. In contrast the fool cannot handle criticism well and/or announces dissatisfaction instinctively and quickly, without appropriate thought for others.
  49. Proverbs 12:17 tn The text has “he pours out faithfully”; the word rendered “faithfully” or “reliably” (אֱמוּנָה, ʾemunah) is used frequently for giving testimony in court, and so here the subject matter is the reliable witness.
  50. Proverbs 12:17 tn Heb “righteousness.”
  51. Proverbs 12:17 tn Heb “witness of falsehoods.” The genitive noun functions attributively, and the plural form depicts habitual action or moral characteristic. This describes a person who habitually lies. A false witness cannot be counted on to help the cause of justice.
  52. Proverbs 12:17 tn The term “speaks” does not appear in this line but is implied by the parallelism; it is supplied in the translation for clarity and smoothness.
  53. Proverbs 12:18 tn The term בּוֹטֶה (boteh) means “to speak rashly [or, thoughtlessly]” (e.g., Lev 5:4; Num 30:7).
  54. Proverbs 12:18 tn Heb “the tongue” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV). The term לָשׁוֹן (lashon, “tongue”) functions as a metonymy of cause for what is said.
  55. Proverbs 12:18 tn Heb “[is] healing.” The term “brings” is supplied in the translation for the sake of clarity and smoothness.
  56. Proverbs 12:18 sn Healing is a metonymy of effect. Healing words are the opposite of the cutting, irresponsible words. What the wise say is faithful and true, gentle and kind, uplifting and encouraging; so their words bring healing.
  57. Proverbs 12:19 tn Heb “a lip of truth.” The genitive אֱמֶת (ʾemet, “truth”) functions as an attributive adjective: “truthful lip.” The term שְׂפַת (sefat, “lip”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= lip) for the whole (= person): “truthful person.” The contrast is between “the lip of truth” and the “tongue of lying.”
  58. Proverbs 12:19 tn Heb “a tongue of deceit.” The genitive שָׁקֶר (shaqer, “deceit”) functions as an attributive genitive. The noun לָשׁוֹן (lashon, “tongue”) functions as a synecdoche of part (= tongue) for the whole (= person): “lying person.”
  59. Proverbs 12:19 tn The verb אַרְגִיעָה (ʾargiʿah) is the Hiphil of the root רָגַע (ragaʿ). The number of homonyms of this root in Hebrew is debated. BDB lists it as a denominative of רֶגַע (regaʿ, “a moment”), with the Hiphil meaning “to make a twinkling” (BDB 920 s.v. I רָגַע). HALOT lists only one verbal root with a base meaning “to look for peace” and this phrase with the Hiphil meaning “as long as I grant rest” (HALOT 1188, s.v. רָגַע). Gesenius considers it to refer to blinking the eyes (GKC 321 § 108h). In any case it is agreed that this expression is an idiom for brevity, “only for a moment.”
  60. Proverbs 12:20 tc Rather than the MT’s מִרְמָה (mirmah, “deceit”), the BHS editors suggest מֹרָה (morah, “bitterness, sorrow”) as a contrast to joy in the second half.
  61. Proverbs 12:20 sn The contrast here is between “evil” (= pain and calamity) and “peace” (= social wholeness and well-being); see, e.g., Pss 34:14; 37:37.
  62. Proverbs 12:20 tn Heb “those who are counselors of peace.” The term שָׁלוֹם (shalom, “peace”) is an objective genitive, so the genitive-construct “counselors of peace” means those who advise, advocate or promote peace (cf. NAB, NIV).
  63. Proverbs 12:21 tn Hebrew places the negative with the verb (“all harm will not be…”), while English prefers to negate the noun (“no harm will…”). The proper nuance of אָוֶן (ʾaven) is debated. The noun can refer to disaster, injustice, or iniquity. It is not clear how neutrally the term may refer to disaster or how tightly it is tied to the consequence or result of wickedness. There is some question as to whether it can have a magical connotation, as in a spell or a curse. In Job, Eliphaz declares that אָוֶן (ʾaven) doesn’t come out of the dust (just happen); on the other hand, humankind is born to trouble (Job 5:6-7). Rashi, a Jewish scholar who lived a.d. 1040-1105, took the term as “wickedness,” and the clause as “the righteous will not be caught up in wickedness.”
  64. Proverbs 12:21 tn The pual imperfect verb ‏יְאֻנֶּה (yeʾunneh) is from a rare root occurring only 4 times in the Bible. In the only piel case, Exod 21:13, God makes something happen for someone. This implies that the pual is not simply “to happen to” but “made to happen to.” Some propose “be allowed to happen to.”sn Proverbial sayings are often general and not absolute. Clearly Job was a righteous person to whom harm happened (or was permitted to happen). And being righteous does not mean an exemption from all hardships that are not related to punishment. The proper nuance also depends on the understanding of “harm.” Perhaps the correct nuance is that God does not direct harms of punishment at the righteous. In the surrounding polytheistic countries, they believed that a god might make a mistake and punish the wrong person.
  65. Proverbs 12:21 tn The expression מָלְאוּ רָע (maleʾu raʿ, “to be full of calamity/evil”) means (1) the wicked do much evil or (2) the wicked experience much calamity (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).
  66. Proverbs 12:22 tn Heb “an abomination of the Lord.” The term יְהוָה (yehvah, “the Lord”) is a subjective genitive.
  67. Proverbs 12:22 tn Heb “lips of lying.” The genitive שָׁקֶר (shaqer, “lying”) functions as an attributive genitive: “lying lips.” The term “lips” functions as a synecdoche of part (= lips) for the whole (= person): “a liar.”
  68. Proverbs 12:22 tn Heb “but doers of truthfulness.” The term “truthfulness” is an objective genitive, meaning: “those who practice truth” or “those who act in good faith.” Their words and works are reliable.
  69. Proverbs 12:22 sn The contrast between “delight/pleasure” and “abomination” is emphatic. What pleases the Lord is acting truthfully or faithfully.
  70. Proverbs 12:23 tn Heb “a shrewd man” (so NAB); KJV, NIV “a prudent man”; NRSV “One who is clever.” sn A shrewd person knows how to use knowledge wisely, and restrains himself from revealing all he knows.
  71. Proverbs 12:23 sn The term כֹּסֶה (koseh, “covers; hides”) does not mean that he never shares his knowledge, but discerns when it is and is not appropriate to speak, cf. 10:14; 17:27.
  72. Proverbs 12:23 tn Heb “the mind of fools.” The לֵב (lev, “mind, heart”) is the place of thinking and so it is the both source of what is said and the place of discernment for what to say aloud.
  73. Proverbs 12:23 tn Or “speak out foolishly.” The noun may be a direct object (folly) or an adverbial accusative (foolishly).sn The noun אִוֶּלֶת (ʾivvelet, “foolishness; folly”) is the antithesis of perception and understanding. It is related to the noun אֱוִּיל (ʾevvil, “fool”), one who is morally bad because he despises wisdom and discipline, mocks at guilt, is licentious and quarrelsome, and is almost impossible to rebuke. W. McKane says that the more one speaks, the less he is able to speak effectively (Proverbs [OTL], 422). Cf. TEV “stupid people advertise their ignorance;” NLT “fools broadcast their folly.”
  74. Proverbs 12:24 sn By their diligent work they succeed to management. The diligent rise to the top, while the lazy sink to the bottom.
  75. Proverbs 12:24 tn Heb “the hand of the diligent.” The term “hand” is a synecdoche of part (= hand) for the whole (= person): diligent person. The hand is emphasized because it is the instrument of physical labor; it signifies the actions and the industry of a diligent person—what his hand does.
  76. Proverbs 12:24 tn The term רְמִיָּה (remiyyah) can mean “slack, negligent, deceptive” (HALOT 1243 s.v.). By the feature of ellipsis and double duty we should probably understand it as “the hand of the negligent,” as a way of referring to a negligent person. The term refers to one who is not diligent, who perhaps tries deceive his employer about his work, which he has neglected.
  77. Proverbs 12:24 tn The term מַס (mas) refers to forced or conscripted labor and is sometimes translated as “slave labor” (NIV, cf. NLT “slave”) but it is far from clear that it means slavery (see NIDOTTE 984 s.v.). The term certainly describes imposed work requirements. For Israelites within Israel it is elsewhere used only in connection to conscription to work on royal building projects making it like a form of taxation (forced labor has often been used in world history as taxation instead of money). The precise use of the term here is unclear because of general lack of information, but perhaps the lazy person will not earn enough money to meet obligations and be required to pay via forced labor.
  78. Proverbs 12:25 tn The word “anxiety” (דְּאָגָה, deʾagah) combines anxiety and fear—anxious fear (e.g., Jer 49:23; Ezek 4:16; for the related verb see Ps 38:18; Jer 17:8).
  79. Proverbs 12:25 tn Heb “bows it [= his heart] down.” Anxiety weighs heavily on the heart, causing depression. The spirit is brought low.
  80. Proverbs 12:25 tn Heb “good.” The Hebrew word “good” (טוֹב, tov) refers to what is beneficial for life, promotes life, creates life or protects life. The “good word” here would include encouragement, kindness, and insight—the person needs to regain the proper perspective on life and renew his confidence.
  81. Proverbs 12:25 tn Heb “makes it [= his heart] glad.” The similarly sounding terms יַשְׁחֶנָּה (yashkhennah, “weighs it down”) and יְשַׂמְּחֶנָּה (yesammekhennah, “makes it glad”) create a wordplay (paronomasia) that dramatically emphasizes the polar opposite emotional states: depression versus joy.
  82. Proverbs 12:26 tn The line has several possible translations: (1) The verb יָתֵר (yater) can mean “to spy out; to examine,” which makes a good contrast to “lead astray” in the parallel colon. So perhaps, it means “searches out his neighbor/friend,” though this bypasses the preposition “from.” (2) יָתֵר could be the Hophal of נָתַר (natar, Hiphil “to set free”; Hophal “to be set free”): “the righteous is delivered from harm” [reading מֵרָעָה, meraʿah] (J. A. Emerton, “A Note on Proverbs 12:26, ” ZAW 76 [1964]: 191-93). (3) Another option is, “the righteous guides his friend aright” (cf. NRSV, NLT).
  83. Proverbs 12:27 tc The MT reads יַחֲרֹךְ (yakharokh) from II חָרַךְ (kharakh, “to roast”?). On the other hand, several versions (LXX, Syriac, Vulgate) reflect a Hebrew Vorlage of יַדְרִיךְ (yadrikh) from דָרַךְ (darakh, “to gain”), meaning: “a lazy person cannot catch his prey” (suggested by Gemser; cf. NAB). The MT is the more difficult reading, being a hapax legomenon, and therefore should be retained; the versions are trying to make sense out of a rare expression.tn The verb II חָרַךְ (kharakh) is a hapax legomenon, appearing in the OT only here. BDB suggests that it means “to start; to set in motion” (BDB 355 s.v.). The related Aramaic and Syriac verb means “to scorch; to parch,” and the related Arabic verb means “to roast; to scorch by burning”; so it may mean “to roast; to fry” (HALOT 353 s.v. I חרך). The lazy person can’t be bothered cooking what he has hunted. The Midrash sees an allusion to Jacob and Esau in Genesis 25. M. Dahood translates it: “the languid man will roast no game for himself, but the diligent will come on the wealth of the steppe” (“The Hapax harak in Proverbs 12:27, ” Bib 63 [1982]: 60-62). This hyperbole means that the lazy person does not complete a project.
  84. Proverbs 12:27 tn Heb “the precious possession of a man, diligent.” The LXX reads “but a valuable possession [is] a pure man” while Rashi, a highly esteemed 11th century Rabbi, interpreted it as “a precious possession of a man is to be diligent” (R. Murphy, Proverbs [WBC] 88). The translation assumes that the word יָקָר (yaqar, “precious”) should either be a construct form or transposed into predicate position. The implication is not to desire or overvalue possessions themselves but to take care of what one has.
  85. Proverbs 12:28 tc The MT has דֶרֶך נְתִיבָה (derekh netivah) “a way, a path.” The duplication of meaning is awkward. If the first word is repointed as a Qal participle (דֹּרֵך, dorekh) it could be understood as “treading a path [that leads to…].” The editors of BHS propose that the second word be emended to מְשׁוּבָה (meshuvah, “[way of] apostacy”) or תּוֹעֵבָה (toʿevah, “[way of] abomination”). The LXX reads “the ways of the revengeful [lead] to death.”
  86. Proverbs 12:28 tc The consonants אל־מות (ʾl mvt) are vocalized by the MT as אַל־מָוֶת (ʾal mavet, “no death”), perhaps meaning immortality (“the journey of [her] path is no-death”). M. Dahood suggests that it means permanence (“Immortality in Proverbs 12:28, ” Bib 41 [1960]: 176-81). However, many medieval Hebrew mss and all the versions vocalize it as אֶל־מָוֶת (ʾel mavet), meaning “leads to death” (cf. NAB, NCV). W. McKane adopts this reading, and suggests that MT is a scribal change toward eternal life (Proverbs [OTL], 451-52). Others adopt this reading because they do not find the term “life” used in Proverbs for eternal life, nor do they find references to immortality elsewhere in Proverbs.

Paul, an apostle – sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead – and all the brothers and sisters[a] with me,

To the churches in Galatia:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

No other gospel

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: if anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!

10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Paul called by God

11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15 But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being. 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Cephas[b] and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 I saw none of the other apostles – only James, the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie.

21 Then I went to Syria and Cilicia. 22 I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ 24 And they praised God because of me.


  1. Galatians 1:2 The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women, as part of God’s family; also in verse 11; and in 3:15; 4:12, 28, 31; 5:11, 13; 6:1, 18.
  2. Galatians 1:18 That is, Peter


From Paul,[a] an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia. Grace and peace to you[b] from God the Father and our[c] Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.

Occasion of the Letter

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one[d] who called you by the grace of Christ[e] and are following[f] a different[g] gospel— not that there really is another gospel,[h] but[i] there are some who are disturbing you and wanting[j] to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach[k] a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you,[l] let him be condemned to hell![m] As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell![n] 10 Am I now trying to gain the approval of people,[o] or of God? Or am I trying to please people?[p] If I were still trying to please[q] people,[r] I would not be a slave[s] of Christ!

Paul’s Vindication of His Apostleship

11 Now[t] I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[u] that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.[v] 12 For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source;[w] instead I received it[x] by a revelation of Jesus Christ.[y]

13 For you have heard of my former way of life[z] in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it. 14 I[aa] was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation,[ab] and was[ac] extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.[ad] 15 But when the one[ae] who set me apart from birth[af] and called me by his grace was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in[ag] me so that I could preach him[ah] among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from[ai] any human being,[aj] 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but right away I departed to Arabia,[ak] and then returned to Damascus.

18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas[al] and get information from him,[am] and I stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles[an] except James the Lord’s brother. 20 I assure you[ao] that, before God, I am not lying about what I am writing to you![ap] 21 Afterward I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 But I was personally[aq] unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 23 They were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news[ar] of the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 So[as] they glorified God because of me.[at]


  1. Galatians 1:1 tn Grk “Paul.” The word “from” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
  2. Galatians 1:3 tn Grk “Grace to you and peace.”
  3. Galatians 1:3 tc ‡ The unusual placement of the pronoun in καὶ κυρίου ἡμῶν (kai kuriou hēmōn), which produces the reading “God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ” instead of “God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,” is read by P46, 51vid B D F G H 1175 1505 1739 1881 M sy sa, while the more normal ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου (hēmōn kai kuriou) is found in א A P Ψ 33 81 326 365 1241 2464. Thus, the reading adopted in the translation is more widespread geographically and is found in the two earliest witnesses, along with several good representatives of the Alexandrian, Western, and Byzantine families. Internally, there would be a strong motivation for scribes to change the order to the more usual expression: “from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” is Paul’s normal greeting; here alone is the pronoun attached to “Jesus Christ” (except in the Pastorals, though the greeting in these letters is nevertheless unlike the rest of the corpus Paulinum). Intrinsically, the chosen reading is superior as well: Scribes would be prone to emulate Paul’s regular style, while in an early letter such as this one his regular style was yet to be established (for a similar situation, cf. the text-critical discussion at 1 Thess 1:1). Hence, there is a strong probability that the reading in the translation above is authentic. Although B. M. Metzger argues that “the apostle’s stereotyped formula was altered by copyists who, apparently in the interest of Christian piety, transferred the possessive pronoun so it would be more closely associated with ‘Lord Jesus Christ’” (TCGNT 520), one might expect to see the same alterations in other Pauline letters. That this is not the case argues for “our Lord Jesus Christ” as the authentic reading here.
  4. Galatians 1:6 sn The one who called you is a reference to God the Father (note the mention of Christ in the following prepositional phrase and the mention of God the Father in 1:1).
  5. Galatians 1:6 tc Although the majority of witnesses, including some of the most important ones (P51 א A B Fc Ψ 33 1175 1505 1739 1881 2464 M f vg syp bo), read “by the grace of Christ” (χάριτι Χριστοῦ, chariti Christou) here, this reading is not without variables. Besides alternate readings such as χάριτι ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (chariti Iēsou Christou, “by the grace of Jesus Christ”; D 326 1241s syh**) and χάριτι θεοῦ (chariti theou, “by the grace of God”; 327 Thretlem), a few mss and other witnesses (P46vid F* G Hvid ar b Tert Cyp Ambst Pel) have simply χάριτι with no modifier. Internally, the reading that seems best to explain the rise of the others is the shortest reading, χάριτι. Indeed, the fact that three different adjuncts are found in the mss seems to be a natural expansion on the simple “grace.” At the same time, the witnesses for the shortest reading are not particularly impressive, being that they largely represent one textual strand (Western), and a less-than-reliable one at that. Further, nowhere else in the corpus Paulinum do we see the construction χάρις (charis, “grace”) followed by Χριστοῦ without some other name (such as κυρίου [kuriou, “Lord”] or ᾿Ιησοῦ). The construction χάρις θεοῦ is likewise frequent in Paul. Thus, upon closer inspection it seems that the autographic wording here was χάριτι Χριστοῦ (for it is difficult to explain how this particular reading could have arisen from the simple χάριτι, in light of Paul’s normal idioms), with the other readings intentionally or accidentally arising from it.
  6. Galatians 1:6 tn Grk “deserting [turning away] to” a different gospel, implying the idea of “following.”
  7. Galatians 1:6 tn Grk “another.”
  8. Galatians 1:7 tn Grk “which is not another,” but this could be misunderstood to mean “which is not really different.” In fact, as Paul goes on to make clear, there is no other gospel than the one he preaches.
  9. Galatians 1:7 tn Grk “except.”
  10. Galatians 1:7 tn Or “trying.”
  11. Galatians 1:8 tc ‡ Most witnesses have ὑμῖν (humin, “to you”) either after (א2 A [D* ὑμᾶς] 6 33 326 614 945 1881 M Tertpt Ambst) or before (P51vid B H 0278 630 1175 [1739* ἡμῖν]) εὐαγγελίζηται (euaggelizētai, “should preach” [or some variation on the form of this verb]). But the fact that it floats suggests its inauthenticity, especially since it appears to be a motivated reading for purposes of clarification. The following witnesses lack the pronoun: א* F G Ψ ar b g Cyp McionT Tertpt Lcf. The external evidence admittedly is not as weighty as evidence for the pronoun, but coupled with strong internal evidence the shorter reading should be considered the earliest. Although it is possible that scribes may have deleted the pronoun to make Paul’s statement seem more universal, the fact that the pronoun floats suggests otherwise. NA28 has the pronoun in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.
  12. Galatians 1:8 tn Or “other than the one we preached to you.”
  13. Galatians 1:8 tn Grk “let him be accursed” (ἀνάθεμα, anathema). The translation gives the outcome which is implied by this dreadful curse.
  14. Galatians 1:9 tn See the note on this phrase in the previous verse.
  15. Galatians 1:10 tn Grk “of men”; but here ἀνθρώπους (anthrōpous) is used in a generic sense of both men and women.
  16. Galatians 1:10 tn Grk “men”; but here ἀνθρώποις (anthrōpois) is used in a generic sense of both men and women.
  17. Galatians 1:10 tn The imperfect verb has been translated conatively (ExSyn 550).
  18. Galatians 1:10 tn Grk “men”; but here ἀνθρώποις (anthrōpois) is used in a generic sense of both men and women.
  19. Galatians 1:10 tn Traditionally, “servant” or “bondservant.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). One good translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος) in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force. Also, many slaves in the Roman world became slaves through Rome’s subjugation of conquered nations, kidnapping, or by being born into slave households. sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
  20. Galatians 1:11 tc ‡ The conjunction δέ (de) is found in P46 א*,2 A D1 Ψ 1175 1241 1505 1739 1881 M sy bo, while γάρ (gar) is the conjunction of choice in א1 B D*,c F G 33 lat sa. There are thus good representatives on each side. Scribes generally tended to prefer γάρ in such instances, most likely because it was more forceful and explicit. γάρ is thus seen as a motivated reading. For this reason, δέ is preferred.
  21. Galatians 1:11 tn Grk “brothers,” but the Greek word may be used for “brothers and sisters” or “fellow Christians” as here (cf. BDAG 18 s.v. ἀδελφός 1, where considerable nonbiblical evidence for the plural ἀδελφοί [adelphoi] meaning “brothers and sisters” is cited).
  22. Galatians 1:11 tn Grk “is not according to man.”
  23. Galatians 1:12 tn Or “I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it.”
  24. Galatians 1:12 tn The words “I received it” are not in the Greek text but are implied.
  25. Galatians 1:12 tn It is difficult to determine what kind of genitive ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ (Iēsou Christou) is. If it is a subjective genitive, the meaning is “a revelation from Jesus Christ” but if objective genitive, it is “a revelation about Jesus Christ.” Most likely this is objective since the explanation in vv. 15-16 mentions God revealing the Son to Paul so that he might preach, although the idea of a direct revelation to Paul at some point cannot be ruled out.
  26. Galatians 1:13 tn Or “lifestyle,” “behavior.”
  27. Galatians 1:14 tn Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation. Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  28. Galatians 1:14 tn Or “among my race.”
  29. Galatians 1:14 tn Grk “was advancing beyond…nation, being.” The participle ὑπάρχων (huparchōn) was translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
  30. Galatians 1:14 sn The traditions of my ancestors refers to both Pharisaic and popular teachings of this time which eventually were codified in Jewish literature such as the Mishnah, Midrashim, and Targums.
  31. Galatians 1:15 tc ‡ Several significant witnesses have ὁ θεός (ho theos) after εὐδόκησεν (eudokēsen; so א A D Ψ 0278 33 1175 1241 1739 1881 2464 M co) while the shorter reading is supported by P46 B F G 629 1505 lat. There is hardly any reason why scribes would omit the words (although the Beatty papyrus and the Western text do at times omit words and phrases), but several reasons why scribes would add the words (especially the need to clarify). The confluence of witnesses for the shorter reading (including a few fathers and versions) adds strong support for its authenticity. It is also in keeping with Paul’s style to refrain from mentioning God by name as a rhetorical device (cf. ExSyn 437 [although this section deals with passive constructions, the principle is the same]). NA28 includes the words in brackets, indicating some doubts as to their authenticity.
  32. Galatians 1:15 tn Grk “from my mother’s womb.”
  33. Galatians 1:16 tn Or “to me”; the Greek preposition ἐν (en) can mean either, depending on the context.
  34. Galatians 1:16 tn This pronoun refers to “his Son,” mentioned earlier in the verse.
  35. Galatians 1:16 tn Or “I did not consult with.” For the translation “I did not go to ask advice from” see L&N 33.175.
  36. Galatians 1:16 tn Grk “from flesh and blood.”
  37. Galatians 1:17 sn As a geographical region Arabia included the territory west of Mesopotamia, east and south of Syria and Palestine, extending to the isthmus of Suez. During the Roman occupation, some independent kingdoms arose like that of the Nabateans south of Damascus, and these could be called simply Arabia. In light of the proximity to Damascus, this may well be the territory Paul says he visited here. See also C. W. Briggs, “The Apostle Paul in Arabia,” Biblical World 41 (1913): 255-59.
  38. Galatians 1:18 sn Cephas. This individual is generally identified with the Apostle Peter (L&N 93.211). Both the Aramaic name “Cephas” and the Greek name “Peter” are related to words in each language which mean “rock.”
  39. Galatians 1:18 tn Although often translated “to get acquainted with Cephas,” this could give the impression of merely a social call. L&N 34.52 has “to visit, with the purpose of obtaining information” for the meaning of ἱστορέω (historeō), particularly in this verse.
  40. Galatians 1:19 tn Grk “But another of the apostles I did not see, except…” with “another” in emphatic position in the Greek text. Paul is determined to make the point that his contacts with the original twelve apostles and other leaders of the Jerusalem church were limited, thus asserting his independence from them.
  41. Galatians 1:20 tn Grk “behold.”
  42. Galatians 1:20 tn Grk “What things I am writing to you, behold, before God [that] I am not lying.”
  43. Galatians 1:22 tn Or “by sight”; Grk “by face.”
  44. Galatians 1:23 tn The Greek verb here is εὐαγγελίζεται (euangelizetai).
  45. Galatians 1:24 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the result of the report about Paul’s conversion.
  46. Galatians 1:24 tn The prepositional phrase ἐν εμοί (en emoi) has been translated with a causal force.

Paul accepted by the apostles

Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.

As for those who were held in high esteem – whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favouritism – they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognised that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,[a] just as Peter had been to the circumcised.[b] For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. James, Cephas[c] and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognised the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

Paul opposes Cephas

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, ‘You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 ‘We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[d] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17 ‘But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a law-breaker.

19 ‘For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!’[e]


  1. Galatians 2:7 That is, Gentiles
  2. Galatians 2:7 That is, Jews; also in verses 8 and 9
  3. Galatians 2:9 That is, Peter; also in verses 11 and 14
  4. Galatians 2:16 Or but through the faithfulness of . . . justified on the basis of the faithfulness of
  5. Galatians 2:21 Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 14.

Confirmation from the Jerusalem Apostles

Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, taking Titus along too. I went there[a] because of[b] a revelation and presented[c] to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so[d] only in a private meeting with the influential people,[e] to make sure that I was not running—or had not run[f]—in vain. Yet[g] not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. Now this matter arose[h] because of the false brothers with false pretenses[i] who slipped in unnoticed to spy on[j] our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves.[k] But[l] we did not surrender to them[m] even for a moment,[n] in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.[o]

But from those who were influential[p] (whatever they were makes no difference to me; God shows no favoritism between people[q])—those influential leaders[r] added[s] nothing to my message.[t] On the contrary, when they saw[u] that I was entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised[v] just as Peter was entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised[w] (for he who empowered[x] Peter for his apostleship[y] to the circumcised[z] also empowered me for my apostleship to the Gentiles)[aa] and when James, Cephas,[ab] and John, who had a reputation as[ac] pillars,[ad] recognized[ae] the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me[af] the right hand of fellowship, agreeing[ag] that we would go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.[ah] 10 They requested[ai] only that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.

Paul Rebukes Peter

11 But when Cephas[aj] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong.[ak] 12 Until[al] certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this[am] and separated himself[an] because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision.[ao] 13 And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them[ap] by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force[aq] the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

The Justification of Jews and Gentiles

15 We are Jews by birth[ar] and not Gentile sinners,[as] 16 yet we know[at] that no one[au] is justified by the works of the law[av] but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.[aw] And[ax] we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ[ay] and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one[az] will be justified. 17 But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, is Christ then one who encourages[ba] sin? Absolutely not! 18 But if I build up again those things I once destroyed,[bb] I demonstrate that I am one who breaks God’s law.[bc] 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ,[bd] and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So[be] the life I now live in the body,[bf] I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God,[bg] who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside[bh] God’s grace, because if righteousness[bi] could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing![bj]


  1. Galatians 2:2 tn Grk “I went up”; one always spoke idiomatically of going “up” to Jerusalem.
  2. Galatians 2:2 tn Or “in accordance with.” According to BDAG 512 s.v. κατά B.5.a.δ, “Oft. the norm is at the same time the reason, so that in accordance with and because of are merged…Instead of ‘in accordance w.’ κ. can mean simply because of, as a result of, on the basis ofκ. ἀποκάλυψιν Gal 2:2.”
  3. Galatians 2:2 tn Or “set before them.”
  4. Galatians 2:2 tn Grk “Gentiles, but only privately…to make sure.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started with “But” and the words “I did so,” an implied repetition from the previous clause, were supplied to make a complete English sentence.
  5. Galatians 2:2 tn L&N 87.42 has “important persons, influential persons, prominent persons” for οἱ δοκοῦντες and translates this phrase in Gal 2:2 as “in a private meeting with the prominent persons.” The “prominent people” referred to here are the leaders of the Jerusalem church.
  6. Galatians 2:2 tn Here the first verb (τρέχω, trechō, “was not running”) is present subjunctive, while the second (ἔδραμον, edramon, “had not run”) is aorist indicative.
  7. Galatians 2:3 tn Grk “But,” translated here as “Yet” for stylistic reasons (note the use of “but” in v. 2).
  8. Galatians 2:4 tn No subject and verb are expressed in vv. 4-5, but the phrase “Now this matter arose,” implied from v. 3, was supplied to make a complete English sentence.
  9. Galatians 2:4 tn The adjective παρεισάκτους (pareisaktous), which relates to someone joining a group with false motives or false pretenses, applies to the “false brothers.” Although the expression “false brothers with false pretenses” is somewhat redundant, it captures the emphatic force of Paul’s expression, which labels both these “brothers” as false (ψευδαδέλφους, pseudadelphous) as well as their motives. See L&N 34.29 for more information.
  10. Galatians 2:4 tn The verb translated here as “spy on” (κατασκοπέω, kataskopeō) can have a neutral nuance, but here the connotation is certainly negative (so F. F. Bruce, Galatians [NIGTC], 112-13, and E. Burton, Galatians [ICC], 83).
  11. Galatians 2:4 tn Grk “in order that they might enslave us.” The ἵνα (hina) clause with the subjunctive verb καταδουλώσουσιν (katadoulōsousin) has been translated as an English infinitival clause.
  12. Galatians 2:5 tn Grk “slaves, nor did we…” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, οὐδέ (oude) was translated as “But…even” and a new sentence started in the translation at the beginning of v. 5.
  13. Galatians 2:5 tn Or “we did not cave in to their demands.”
  14. Galatians 2:5 tn Grk “even for an hour” (an idiom for a very short period of time).
  15. Galatians 2:5 sn In order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Paul evidently viewed the demands of the so-called “false brothers” as a departure from the truth contained in the gospel he preached. This was a very serious charge (see Gal 1:8).
  16. Galatians 2:6 tn Or “influential leaders.” BDAG 255 s.v. δοκέω 2.a.β has “the influential men Gal 2:2, 6b. A fuller expr. w. the same mng., w. inf. added…vss. 6a, 9.” This refers to the leadership of the Jerusalem church.
  17. Galatians 2:6 tn Grk “God does not receive the face of man,” an idiom for showing favoritism or partiality (BDAG 887-88 s.v. πρόσωπον 1.b.α; L&N 88.238).
  18. Galatians 2:6 tn Or “influential people”; here “leaders” was used rather than “people” for stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy with the word “people” in the previous parenthetical remark. See also the note on the word “influential” at the beginning of this verse.
  19. Galatians 2:6 tn Or “contributed.” This is the same word translated “go to ask advice from” in 1:16, but it has a different meaning here; see L&N 59.72.
  20. Galatians 2:6 tn Or “added nothing to my authority.” Grk “added nothing to me,” with what was added (“message,” etc.) implied.
  21. Galatians 2:7 tn The participle ἰδόντες (idontes) has been taken temporally to retain the structure of the passage. Many modern translations, because of the length of the sentence here, translate this participle as a finite verb and break the Greek sentences into several English sentences (NIV, for example, begins new sentences at the beginning of both vv. 8 and 9).
  22. Galatians 2:7 tn Grk “to the uncircumcision,” that is, to the Gentiles.
  23. Galatians 2:7 tn Grk “to the circumcision,” a collective reference to the Jewish people.
  24. Galatians 2:8 tn Or “worked through”; the same word is also used in relation to Paul later in this verse.
  25. Galatians 2:8 tn Or “his ministry as an apostle.”
  26. Galatians 2:8 tn Grk “to the circumcision,” i.e., the Jewish people.
  27. Galatians 2:8 tn Grk “also empowered me to the Gentiles.”
  28. Galatians 2:9 sn Cephas. This individual is generally identified with the Apostle Peter (L&N 93.211). Both the Aramaic name “Cephas” and the Greek name “Peter” are related to words in each language which mean “rock.”
  29. Galatians 2:9 tn Or “who were influential as,” or “who were reputed to be.” See also the note on the word “influential” in 2:6.
  30. Galatians 2:9 sn Pillars is figurative here for those like James, Peter, and John who were leaders in the Jerusalem church.
  31. Galatians 2:9 tn The participle γνόντες (gnontes) has been taken temporally. It is structurally parallel to the participle translated “when they saw” in v. 7.
  32. Galatians 2:9 tn Grk “me and Barnabas.”
  33. Galatians 2:9 tn Grk “so,” with the ἵνα (hina) indicating the result of the “pillars” extending the “right hand of fellowship,” but the translation “they gave…the right hand of fellowship so that we would go” could be misunderstood as purpose here. The implication of the scene is that an agreement, outlined at the end of v. 10, was reached between Paul and Barnabas on the one hand and the “pillars” of the Jerusalem church on the other.
  34. Galatians 2:9 tn Grk “to the circumcision,” a collective reference to the Jewish people.
  35. Galatians 2:10 tn Grk “only that we remember the poor”; the words “They requested” have been supplied from the context to make a complete English sentence.
  36. Galatians 2:11 sn Cephas. This individual is generally identified with the Apostle Peter (L&N 93.211). Both the Aramaic name “Cephas” and the Greek name “Peter” are related to words in each language which mean “rock.”
  37. Galatians 2:11 tn Grk “because he stood condemned.”
  38. Galatians 2:12 tn The conjunction γάρ has not been translated here.
  39. Galatians 2:12 tn Grk “he drew back.” If ἑαυτόν (heauton) goes with both ὑπέστελλεν (hupestellen) and ἀφώριζεν (aphōrizen) rather than only the latter, the meaning would be “he drew himself back” (see BDAG 1041 s.v. ὑποστέλλω 1.a).
  40. Galatians 2:12 tn Or “and held himself aloof.”
  41. Galatians 2:12 tn Grk “the [ones] of the circumcision,” that is, the group of Jewish Christians who insisted on circumcision of Gentiles before they could become Christians.
  42. Galatians 2:13 tn The words “with them” are a reflection of the σύν- (sun-) prefix on the verb συναπήχθη (sunapēchthē; see L&N 31.76).
  43. Galatians 2:14 tn Here ἀναγκάζεις (anankazeis) has been translated as a conative present (see ExSyn 534).
  44. Galatians 2:15 tn Grk “by nature.”
  45. Galatians 2:15 tn Grk “and not sinners from among the Gentiles.”
  46. Galatians 2:16 tn Grk “yet knowing”; the participle εἰδότες (eidotes) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.
  47. Galatians 2:16 tn Grk “no man,” but ἄνθρωπος (anthrōpos) is used here in a generic sense, referring to both men and women.
  48. Galatians 2:16 sn The law is a reference to the law of Moses.
  49. Galatians 2:16 tn Or “faith in Jesus Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis Christou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in v. 20; Rom 3:22, 26; Gal 3:22; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:2, 22, 29; Mark 2:5; 5:34; 10:52; Luke 5:20; 7:50; 8:25, 48; 17:19; 18:42; 22:32; Rom 1:8; 12; 3:3; 4:5, 12, 16; 1 Cor 2:5; 15:14, 17; 2 Cor 10:15; Phil 2:17; Col 1:4; 2:5; 1 Thess 1:8; 3:2, 5, 10; 2 Thess 1:3; Titus 1:1; Phlm 6; 1 Pet 1:9, 21; 2 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers, 1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view. sn On the phrase translated the faithfulness of Christ, ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.
  50. Galatians 2:16 tn In Greek this is a continuation of the preceding sentence, but the construction is too long and complex for contemporary English style, so a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  51. Galatians 2:16 tn Or “by faith in Christ.” See comment above on “the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.”
  52. Galatians 2:16 tn Or “no human being”; Grk “flesh.”
  53. Galatians 2:17 tn Or “does Christ serve the interests of sin?”; or “is Christ an agent for sin?” See BDAG 230-31 s.v. διάκονος 2.
  54. Galatians 2:18 tn Or “once tore down.”
  55. Galatians 2:18 tn Traditionally, “that I am a transgressor.”
  56. Galatians 2:20 tn The NA28 Greek text, NRSV, NJB, TEV, HCSB, and a few others place the phrase “I have been crucified with Christ” at the end of v. 19, but most English translations place these words at the beginning of v. 20.
  57. Galatians 2:20 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “So” to bring out the connection of the following clauses with the preceding ones. What Paul says here amounts to a result or inference drawn from his co-crucifixion with Christ and the fact that Christ now lives in him. In Greek this is a continuation of the preceding sentence, but the construction is too long and complex for contemporary English style, so a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  58. Galatians 2:20 tn Grk “flesh.”
  59. Galatians 2:20 tc A number of significant witnesses (P46 B D* F G) have θεοῦ καὶ Χριστοῦ (theou kai Christou, “of God and Christ”) instead of υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ (huiou tou theou, “the Son of God”), found in the majority of mss, including several important ones (א A C D1 Ψ 0278 33 1175 1241 1739 1881 2464 M lat sy co). The construction “of God and Christ” appears to be motivated as a more explicit affirmation of the deity of Christ (following as it apparently does the Granville Sharp rule). Although Paul certainly has an elevated Christology, explicit “God-talk” with reference to Jesus does not normally appear until the later books (cf., e.g., Titus 2:13, Phil 2:10-11, and probably Rom 9:5). For different arguments but the same textual conclusions, see TCGNT 524.tn Or “I live by faith in the Son of God.” See note on “faithfulness of Jesus Christ” in v. 16 for the rationale behind the translation “the faithfulness of the Son of God.”sn On the phrase because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith.
  60. Galatians 2:21 tn Or “I do not declare invalid,” “I do not nullify.”
  61. Galatians 2:21 tn Or “justification.”
  62. Galatians 2:21 tn Or “without cause,” “for no purpose.”